An Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel

October 17, 2023

Palestinian trade unions issue an urgent global call to action, calling on workers everywhere to halt the sale and funding of arms to Israel – and related military research.

Call to Action

Israel has demanded that 1.1 million Palestinians evacuate the northern half of Gaza, whilst subjecting them to constant bombardment. This ruthless move is part of Israel’s plan, backed by unwavering support and active participation from the US and majority of European states, to carry out unprecedented and heinous massacres against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza and to ethnically cleanse it altogether. Since Saturday Israel has indiscriminately and intensively bombarded Gaza, and cut off fuel, electricity, water, food, and medical supplies. Israel has killed more than 2,700 Palestinians – including 614 children – leveling whole neighbourhoods, wiping out entire families and injuring more than 10,000 people. Some international law experts have begun warning of Israel’s genocidal acts.

Elsewhere, Israel’s far-right government has distributed more than 10,000 rifles to extremist settlers in ‘48 Palestine and the occupied West Bank to facilitate their escalating attacks and pogroms against Palestinians. Israel’s actions, massacres, and rhetoric point to its intention to implement its long promised second Nakba, expelling as many Palestinians as possible and creating a ‘New Middle East’ in which Palestinians live in perpetual subjugation.

The response by Western states has been one of complete and total support for the State of Israel, without even a cursory nod towards international law. This has amplified Israel impunity, giving it carte blanche to carry out its genocidal war without limit. Beyond diplomatic support, Western states are supplying Israel with armament, sanctioning the operation of Israeli weapons companies within their borders.

As Israel escalates its military campaign, Palestinian trade unions call on our counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes – most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research. The time for action is now – Palestinian lives hang in the balance.

This urgent, genocidal situation can only be prevented by a mass increase of global solidarity with the people of Palestine and that can restrain the Israeli war machine. We need you to take immediate action – wherever you are in the world – to prevent the arming of the Israeli state and the companies involved in the infrastructure of the blockade. We take inspiration from previous mobilisations by trade unions in Italy, South Africa and the United States, and similar international mobilisations against the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s, the fascist dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s and elsewhere where global solidarity limited the extent of colonial brutality.

We are calling on trade unions in relevant industries:

  1. To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel.
  2. To refuse to transport weapons to Israel.
  3. To pass motions in their trade union to this effect.
  4. To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution.
  5. Pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the US, funding to it.

We make this call as we see attempts to ban and silence all forms of solidarity with the Palestinian people. We ask you to speak out and take action in the face of injustice as trade unions have done historically. We make this call in the belief that the struggle for Palestinian justice and liberation is not only a regionally and globally determined struggle. It is a lever for the liberation of all dispossessed and exploited people of the world.

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Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Gaza.

  • General Union of Public Service and Trade Workers
  • General Union of Municipal Workers
  • General Union of Kindergarten Workers
  • General Union of Petrochemicals Workers
  • General Union of Agricultural Workers
  • Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
  • Generation Union of Media and Print Workers

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
General Union of Palestinian Teachers
General Union of Palestinian Women
General Union of Palestinian Engineers
Palestinian Accountants’ Association

Professional Associations Federation including:

  • Palestinian Dental Association – Jerusalem Center
  • Palestinian Pharmacists Association – Jerusalem Center
  • Medical Association – Jerusalem Center
  • Engineers Association – Jerusalem Center
  • Agricultural Engineers Association – Jerusalem Center
  • Veterinarians Syndicate – Jerusalem Center

Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate
Palestinian Bar Association
Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association
Union of Kindergartens Workers
Palestinian Postal Services Workers Union
Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities Professors & Employees
The General Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Palestine
The Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions
Palestinian General Union of Writers
Palestinian Contractors Union
Federation of Health Professionals Syndicates
Palestinian Union of Psychologists and Social Workers •

Palestinian Youth Movement: The First Week

Palestinian Youth Movement makes an urgent appeal for principled solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian Youth Movement has also put together a reading list on the history of popular resistance in Palestine.

Gaza is the story of the Palestinian people. It is a story of displacement and refugeehood, of imprisonment at the hands of a foreign occupier. But, most importantly, it is a story of sumud (steadfastness) and resistance: resistance that is driven by a love for one’s people, a love for one’s homeland, and a love for life and freedom. Now and onwards, you must not allow your friends and comrades to turn their backs on the Palestinian liberation struggle. You must not allow them to falter in the face of the events of this week, or to devolve into insipid both-sideism or pragmatic armchair generalismo, or to publish cowardly denunciations that do nothing more than provide a left cover for an impending genocide on the people of Gaza. Most importantly, you must not allow them to lose sight of why the oppressed people resist; that it is not only understandable, not only an occupied people’s right, but also just and true. We hope this bulletin will help guide what principled solidarity can look like right now within the imperial core, and arm those in solidarity with us with tools to resist the military-industrial complex that is hellbent on our people’s extermination.

Your priority must be communicating a set of realities clearly and unequivocally. 2.4 million Palestinians are currently being held hostage by Zionists, who are martyring thousands with genocidal impunity. All the crossings are closed. The Zionists are indiscriminately using bombs and internationally-prohibited weapons on a densely populated concentration camp full of entrapped civilians. There is no water or electricity. Mass arrests of Palestinians across all of historic Palestine add to the hundreds of administrative detainees imprisoned without charge, who are now suffering additional retribution by the colonial regime. Gazan hospitals – which are already graveyards – are themselves being targeted, and at least thirteen have already been hit. Seven confirmed members of the press have been martyred, and news stations are regularly being cut due to the lack of electricity. Ambulances and the Red Crescent are also being deliberately targeted. Universities and mosques have been destroyed. Entire families are being wiped out – at least forty-five entire families that we have seen reported. And this is just a small sampling of what is happening in Gaza right now, owing to a reporting blackout, which is being aided and abetted by the genocidal Western media machine.

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All this being said, we do not want to use abstractions to discuss Gaza: every story is one of violence and resistance and beautiful, ordinary life. But to do them proper justice, you’d have to give us a lifetime. What we can say with certainty is that the Palestinian people are unbowed. No amount of collective punishment by the Zionist entity will bend or break the will of our people to live in dignity. We know why Gaza is being targeted: because it is the heart of our resistance. And that resistance is both a strategic and moral necessity to the ordering violences of the Zionist system from river to sea, which seeks the extermination of the Palestinian people. We therefore maintain what the rest of our Palestinian sisters and brothers maintain: we will continue to fight, and we will win.

The foremost demand to anyone inside the West, inside the imperial core, is to oppose the genocidal drumbeat waged by Zionist and Western leaders alike. The Palestinian people of Gaza have asked for the bombing campaign to stop, the blockade to end once and for all, and for humanitarian aid to enter. But also and more broadly, what we are asking those who wish to be in solidarity within the West is threefold. First, struggle through organizations and your workplaces and your communities and in the streets to demand an end to both the current genocidal campaign and for an end to the entire system of settler colonialism that has strangled Palestine for the last century. Second, go on the offensive: demand sanctions against Zionism; no more weapons, no more money, no more cultural or institutional cover. We want the total anti-normalization of a Zionism that has once again shown its face to the world. Finally, understand Palestinian resistance as fundamentally just and as a means of survival for our people; it will not stop in the weeks and months to come, and you must be prepared not to waver again.

The Western governmental response has been military and economic carte blanche and material support. These nations have withdrawn much of their foreign aid to the Palestinian people at a moment of utter crisis; leaked documents suggest that the US State Department has instructed its bureaucrats to avoid issuing calls for de-escalation or ceasefire. Secretary Blinken visiting the Philadelphia-born prime minister of the Zionist entity while he is initiating genocide of Palestinians is an affirmation of total US government support and a guarantee of intelligence and military resources to be placed at the Zionists’ disposal. EU leaders, too, have embraced the death merchants of the “Second Nakba” in a lurid display of global settler phantasmagoria. Students and activists are being rounded up from the streets and campuses for their brave defenses of the Palestinian resistance. Germany is leading mass arrest campaigns and seeking to ban the Palestinian prisoners’ movement from their country; England and France are seeking to ban symbols and expressions of Palestinian solidarity. Your voices and your bodies are needed now.

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The media gives cover to all this: they render us savage and killable. The world is watching your programs and statements and essays, and will remember your complicity, just as it did with Iraq. We demand local and national news outlets commit to honest reporting on Gaza that does not include racism and effacement designed to manufacture consent for genocide, but also, we do not hold our breaths.

Palestinians and Arabs have long understood that Zionism and Western imperialism are intimately intertwined. At their base, the two ideologies fundamentally seek the same things: the extraction of Arab land and labor, the elimination of a Palestinian population, and the blanket of an imperial military and economic system that subjugates the world’s oppressed. The violent colonial response we are witnessing is therefore neither surprising nor random. Rather, it is the “rational,” ordered response of a system governed by counterrevolutionary and anti-Communist logic.

The bitter irony is also not lost on us, that some have chosen to speak now after decades of silence. Where were they when Gaza was put under air, land, and water siege sixteen years ago, entrapping a population of two million people, half of them children? Where were they when the Zionists implemented calorie controls to spread malnutrition and disability? Where were they when Zionist leaders told the world decades ago that their intention with Gaza was to extract maximum pain on a civilian population, to once again ethnically cleanse a people who were stripped of their lands and homes seventy-five years ago, and who now comprise the heart of Palestinian resistance? This week, these peoples’ mask has come off – such are the realities of revolution. For those who are willing and ready, we have a keffiyeh to offer in its place. •

This article first published on the Progressive International website.

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